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Everything you should know about Spain before they face the Lionesses in the World Cup final

For the first time in women’s footballing history England are through to the World Cup final.

After beating co-hosts Australia 3-1 on Wednesday, they will play Spain in the final this weekend.

La Roja were the first team to secure their place in the last two – but how much of a threat are they to the Lionesses?

Here Sky News looks at everything you need to know.


Route to the final

Spain were the clear favourites to win their group – having been drawn with Costa Rica, Zambia and Japan.

They began their Group C campaign with solid 3-0 and 5-0 wins against Costa Rica and Zambia respectively.

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But their straight run of wins came crashing down in their final fixture, which they lost 4-0 to Japan.

Spain’s Olga Carmona (right) during Spain’s Group C match against Japan

It saw them fall to second place – but still allowed them to qualify and redeem themselves in the second round. That game against Switzerland was much more promising with goals from Aitana Bonmati, Jenni Hermoso and Alba Redondo and a 5-1 victory.

Next came a 2-1 win against the Netherlands, which had to go to extra time after they equalised with just minutes to go. Spain went through when left-back Olga Carmona stepped up with a shot off the bar to regain the lead.

La Roja’s semi-final against Sweden followed a similar pattern – but left fans on the edge of their seats until the final 15 minutes when all three goals came in quick succession.

Rising star Salma Paralluelo was the first to hit the back of the net – before an equaliser from Sweden’s Blomqvist. Again Carmona saved the day to put Spain ahead 2-1, scoring from a corner.

Spain celebrate their place in the final after beating Sweden
Spain celebrate their place in the final after beating Sweden

Pre-World Cup mutiny

Spain’s biggest weakness predates the tournament altogether – but could still help England to their first World Cup win.

In late 2022 15 Spanish players declared themselves unavailable for selection over claims coach Jorge Vilda and his backroom team had become unconcerned with their emotional and physical wellbeing.

Spain coach Jorge Vilda during their semi-final match against Sweden
Spain coach Jorge Vilda during their semi-final match against Sweden

The Spanish federation (RFEF) decided to back Vilda, who took over in 2015 after his predecessor Ignacio Quereda failed to get Spain through the group stages of the World Cup in Canada.

Eventually three players – Aitana Bonmati, Ona Batlle and Mariona Caldentey – returned and were picked for Vilda’s World Cup squad.

But when Spain suffered their unexpected and humiliating defeat against Japan in the group stage, fans were left wondering whether the hangover from the mass walk-out was to blame.

Ones to watch

In normal circumstances, Spain’s star player Alexia Putellas would usually pose the biggest threat.

The 29-year-old Barcelona captain has won back-to-back Ballon d’Ors and no less than seven league titles, seven Copas de la Reinas, and two UEFA Champions League trophies for her club.

Alexia Putellas
Alexia Putellas

But after she tore a ligament ahead of last year’s Euros, questions remain on how strong she’ll prove to be in the final.

She’s only been able to start two of Spain’s World Cup games so far.

Instead the team have been relying on her Barcelona teammate Bonmati – who has netted three of Spain’s 17 goals.

Nineteen-year-old Salma Paralluelo is another key player – having scored in two games this tournament.

Salma Paralluelo
Salma Paralluelo

Vilda has only played her as a second-half substitute so far, but if Putellas isn’t feeling strong enough on the day – he might switch her into the starting line-up.

Spain’s goalkeeper Cata Coll is relatively inexperienced but is well supported by defenders Carmona and Battle.

Record so far

This is only the third time Spain have qualified for the World Cup.

But since they first made an appearance in 2015 they’ve made quick progress.

Most of their success has still been at the Euros, however, having reached the quarter-finals last year. By contrast until this year they’d only ever won a single World Cup match.

The national team is currently ranked sixth in the world, behind rivals England in fourth.

Read more:
Everything you need to know about the World Cup
Non-league match abandoned over racist comment
Boy’s wheelchair hit with flare at football match

At club level, their main domestic league – Liga F – is now fully professional and with World Cup victories last year for the under-17 and under-20 squads, investment and belief in the women’s game there is strong.

Last time they faced England – in the 2022 Euro quarter-finals – they lost 2-1.

They’ve met the Lionesses 16 times since they first came face-to-face in 1993 – and have only won three games, compared to England’s seven. They’ve drawn on six occasions.


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